In 1840 the first P&O passenger vessel sailed into Southampton and marked the start of what was to become the cruise capital of the UK. Today increasing numbers of ships are calling into Southampton with over 450 cruise calls in 2013. Southampton has the majority share of the UK cruise market, which has experienced 400 percent growth over the last 12 years. It is home to the UK fleets of both P&O Cruises and Cunard Line (part of the Carnival Group) and is also used regularly by Royal Caribbean International, Fred Olsen Cruise Line and Saga Holidays. The port currently has four cruise terminals; The Mayflower, QEII, City Cruise and Ocean Terminal. ABP figures show that the cruising industry at the Port of Southampton generates over £300m a year for the local economy; Associated British Ports (DHB) have invested over £40 million in its terminals and surrounding infrastructure. The Southampton Vessel Traffic Service provides information on the ships calling at the port.
The cruise ships calling at Portsmouth International Port are small to medium size. The new terminal building was opened in May 2011. The port is marketing itself as small and medium sized niche operators.